The time had come to start breezing horses. And I was excessively nervous.
To be honest, I’m not much of a speed freak.
I know, I know, I talk about galloping like it is some kind of evangelical religion that I want to convert everyone to. And hey – that really does sum up how I feel about it. But quite honestly, I’ve always been something of a hand-galloper.
Three examples (and reasons why I was so nervous):
First, I always came in with time penalties on the cross-country course. Always. And I could never figure out why. It turns out that when I thought I was hauling ass across stream and meadow, I wasn’t. That’s all. I was going much, much more easily than I thought. One of the disadvantages to training by yourself, which I have nearly always had to do, is that no one is around to say, “Um – Natalie? That isn’t 450 meters per minute. That isn’t even 350 meters per minute. That is a working canter.” Another problem, of course, is that to this day I have no idea how far a meter is. “Meters per minute” is quite possibly the worst standard of measurement ever. United States Eventing Association, take note.
Second, if you read the First Gallop post from a few days ago, you know about my first actual galloping experience on a racehorse – not a good one. The continuation of the story is: that gallop actually cost me my job. It went down like this: “Oh, I have a voicemail! Oh it’s work – let me listen.” VOICEMAIL: “Hi Natalie, it’s Jerry. We’re going to have to let you go. Don’t come in on Monday. We need to find someone that can breeze horses. Sorry. And have a nice wedding.” (I had a very nice wedding – the following week – no thanks to Jerry.)
And, third, if you have been with me for years and read my old Blogspot blogs, you might have read about how I rode a two-year-old on a crazed, mad gallop around a training track sans stirrups. Also, not a great experience. Also, cost me my job. Also, it’s called latex wrap and you put it on stirrup irons. I know I’m not the first person to come up with that.
And so working at speed has become two things to me: either something that I can’t quite figure out (i.e. why the heck do I have so many time penalties?) or something that is quite beyond my reach (only a true riding genius can keep their feet in the irons and go that bloody fast – and be able to pull up.)
I had it in the back of my mind that at some point, I’d be asked to work a breeze. And it was a nervous thought, one I didn’t like, so I ignored it. I diddled around jogging my horses, and then one morning I was asked to turn and gallop, and the horse broke out of a working canter and scared the living daylights out of me, and then after a few more times I realized they are actually easier to gallop than to jog, and I got over it. I started to enjoy galloping. But galloping, and breezing, are two different animals.
Watching another rider breeze one of “my” horses (I’m quite possessive!), I knew I was going to have to do it myself sooner rather than later. But there was, and is, a learning curve there. Items that I’d never paid attention to suddenly loomed. Where was the 3/8ths pole, and how on earth would I know how fast I was going? Was there a possibility of going too fast? Did I have to ride with my stirrups hiked up like a jockey’s?
I was starting to feel a little nervous. A lot nervous.